Interim report on my semester at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Finland.
I flew out to Helsinki in August, full of anticipation. A four-month trip to a country renowned for its sauna culture, cold weather and reserved people. On arriving in Helsinki, I immediately noticed that there was virtually no traffic, stress was generally unknown and everyone spoke virtually perfect English. There were exhibitions, artists and street musicians on virtually every corner as well as small art projects and evening programmes at bars and restaurants. While the city was full of people in August and September, the streets became more empty in the cold weather. The basic characteristics of the Finnish people were their helpful and honest demeanour.
The IT campus at the University of Metropolia is based in Leppävaara and is 15 to 20 minutes away from Helsinki. During ‘Orientation Week’, our tutors and the International Office gave us a short introduction to the university system. During this week, you can also purchase the overalls common in Finland and Sweden which are worn to university events. So-called ‘badges’ can also be purchased during the course. They are sewed onto the overalls. Each university and course has its own colour. The combination of these overalls and joint events promotes a sense of community among the students, including across different universities.
One of the advantages of spending a semester abroad is the opportunity to travel. I went to St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Stockholm and Lapland. For me, the greatest benefit of spending a semester abroad is to get to know lots of lovely people. I made new friendships for my future trips and adventures. During the first week, I already had the feeling that my time here would be too short. Now I have to slowly prepare myself for a heart-wrenching departure.